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Senate sends Mike Duffy expense issue to RCMP

QMI Agency

Senator Mike Duffy arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa May 23, 2013. Duffy resigned from the Conservative caucus last week amid an expenses scandal.     REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Senator Mike Duffy arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa May 23, 2013. Duffy resigned from the Conservative caucus last week amid an expenses scandal. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

A Senate committee made the unanimous decision Tuesday night to send the issue of Sen. Mike Duffy's expenses to the RCMP.

Duffy had a pattern of claiming his Ottawa living expenses while travelling elsewhere, including while campaigning for the Conservatives in 2011, the Senate committee heard.

Claims for 18 days last August were refused by administration because it was understood Duffy was vacationing in Prince Edward Island and not on Senate business as he claimed, Senate clerk Gary O'Brien said.

The findings from auditing firm Deloitte showed staff rejected 24 of 49 claims made by Duffy, some of which were made during the campaign for the 2011 election.

Senators are forbidden from claiming expenses while campaigning.

The report tabled Tuesday stated the rejected claims "represents a pattern that raises concerns."

Deloitte tracked Duffy's location by cross-checking the claims with his cellphone and credit card records, both of which are Senate issued.

Duffy didn't provide documentation or meet with auditors.

In one expense claim, Duffy said he was in Ottawa but was in fact vacationing in Florida, which Duffy chalked up to a "clerical error," the Deloitte report stated.

The information was discussed in a rare meeting that was open to the public, which Duffy didn't attend.

Duffy left the Conservative caucus last week after it was learned he'd paid off housing expenses after receiving a cheque from Nigel Wright, then chief of staff for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Duffy now sits as an independent.

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